The cocktail craze shows no sign of stopping, and thanks to the recently released book The New Cocktail Hour: The Essential Guide to Hand-Crafted Drinks you can now make drinks at home you original thought could only be made at a fancy cocktail bar. Written by Libation-loving siblings André and Tenaya Darlington the book seeks to demystify the world of craft cocktails, updating classic cocktails for contemporary tastes, all with a bit of history included. Here are three of our favorites:
GIN BASIL SMASH
BY JÖERG MEYER
A perfect accent for an outdoor supper during tomato season. In winter, it revives the palate as an aperitif. This drink demonstrates so ably how fresh ingredients can be incorporated into everyday drinking cocktails. Head to your kitchen garden or snag a big bunch of basil at the farmers’ market, and you’re mere steps from a living drink that will make your head dizzy. This drink smashes basil, but you can smash anything—tarragon, thyme, cilantro, or kefir lime leaves. Let this drink inspire you. We like to host a garden party with an assortment of fresh herbs and gins, and let friends muddle their way through an array of flavors.
- 2 ounces gin
- 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 2/3 ounce simple syrup
- Small bunch basil leaves (about 10)
- Basil sprig, for garnish
Muddle basil leaves with lemon juice and simple syrup. Add ice and gin and shake. Double-strain into a chilled cocktail glass with ice. Garnish with a basil sprig.
The precursor to the Pimm’s Cup, the old Claret Cup employs a wine base to make a drink that is light and redolent of additions such as borage, cucumber, or strawberries. There are multiple recipes, but we like a simple one that modifies wine with just a bit of sherry (or even vermouth, in a pinch). Claret was what the English used to call wines from Bordeaux. Really, any red jammy wine will do—Cabernets or even Syrah, although a decent Côtes du Rhône or a Beaujolais is what we use most often. Don’t overthink it—use whatever fruit you’ve got in the fridge and see what you prefer. In fall, it’s lovely to grate a little nutmeg and cinnamon on top.
- 3 ounces red wine
- 1/2 ounce sherry (preferably Amontillado) or sweet vermouth
- 1/2 ounce orange curaçao (or triple sec if you like it sweeter)
- 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 2 ounces soda water
- Cucumber slices, for garnish
- Orange slices, for garnish
Stir ingredients, except soda, with ice and strain into an ice-filled highball glass. Top with soda and garnish with cucumber and orange slices in the glass.
Named for the “cobblestones” of ice that were produced when bartenders pounded down larger blocks in a sack, the Sherry Cobbler takes its place in the pantheon of drinks as the reason we today consume beverages through straws. Made with sherry and elaborate fresh fruit garnishes over crushed ice, patrons required a straw—at first a wooden reed—to get to the liquid at the bottom. Later, the reed evolved into a special metal straw with a little spoon on the end. The invention of the Cobbler was also an important milestone in the development of the cocktail shaker. As one of the first drinks that needed straining, the drink gave rise to the common three-piece cocktail shaker, properly called a cobbler (a bottom shaker, a top with a built-in strainer, and a small cap).
- 4 ounces (120 ml) dry sherry (Amontillado)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 orange slice
- Mint sprig, for garnish
- Seasonal berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries), for garnish
Shake ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled highball glass or metal tumbler. Garnish with mint and berries.
Note: You can use any combination of seasonal berries as garnishes here. The more festive the presentation, the better. We love to serve this with metal straw, but any straw will do.